Atebubu in the Bono Ahafo Region has seen an increase in the number of water-related diseases over the past year resulting in the death of some residents, majority being children.
Health officials warn the situation could escalate as residents continue to fetch and use untreated and unwholesome water which they share with cattle and other animals from contaminated river sources in the area.
Medical Officer and Clinical Coordinator at Atebubu District, Hospital Dr. Rahman Quantson, expressed worry over the situation saying the area has been recording upsurge in water-borne diseases especially cholera over the last few years.
“Last year for instance there was a surge in [water-borne] cases. We even recorded some mortality, as a result. The situation is bad; we have been educating them [residents] and hope things gets better”, worried Dr. Quantson revealed.
“There is quite an increase in typhoid, gastro hemorrhagic fevers and cholera. These conditions are purely from contaminated water”, Dr. Quantson said.
Residents have resorted to fetching water from a stagnant pond they refer to as “dam” for both domestic and commercial use.
Running water carries mud and other debris including human excreta into the stream especially when it rains as some residents defecate openly near water bodies.
But the residents have no choice.
Though the local assembly has provided the Atebubu community with boreholes, they are ineffective with almost all of them broken down.
The “dam” now has to meet their high demands for water for drinking, washing and also to nourish their crops and livestock as well.
Though residents admit they are aware of the implications of the use of the untreated water, they say there is little they can do.
Akosua Bofah, who has been bathing her one-year-old daughter with water from the “dam”, says she the consequences notwithstanding, she has no option.
“I know my daughter can get sick but we are limited with options”, Bofah said.
According to the Ghana WASH Project, one out of four people in rural communities in Ghana have no access safe drinking water.
The water sector monitoring platform puts coverage rate for water in rural Ghana at about 63.7 percent as at 2013.
But the situation is even worse in Atebubu where water is a scarce commodity for almost the predominantly farming community. Residents spend at least GH¢4 on each “Kuffuor gallon” of untreated water from private water trucks.
One of the busiest water suppliers is Seidu Ibrahim Baba Gida who spends all day selling unwholesome water to residents in water tanker truck.
“Looking at the colour of the water I know it is dangerous to their [residents] health but that is the only source of water. People fill their poly tanks with it. Chop bar operators who are major clients buy from us”, Baba Gida said.
For residents, only a miracle can save them from their current precarious situation while health authorities are becoming increasingly worried.
Officials of the District Assembly were not available for comment at the time of filing this report.
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